Parts 16 - 20
Willow, Graham, Boromir, and Éowyn led the Gondorian Company out at first light. They knew that they would have to ride back to Helm's Deep just as hard as they had ridden to Gondor, harder even. They rode fast, stopping only to rest the horses.
As the sun set on the second day since they left Gondor, the Company neared the crest of the hill overlooking Helm's Deep.
/Gandalf? Are you at the Deep yet?/
\\Yes, we're set to come over the hill east of Helm's Deep at sunrise. You?\\
/Good, we're just to the south of you. We'll circle around and come down the northwest side. That way the Uruk-hai can run out the northeast./
\\Sounds good. You will let Legolas know, won't you?\\
/Of course. I just wanted to be able to tell him were both companies were. I'll see you at sunrise./
Graham had moved his horse closer to Willow's when he saw her go into her ‘talking trance', as he liked to call it. When he saw her blink he knew the conversation was over. "How's Gandalf?"
Willow nearly fell off her horse, she was so startled by Graham. "Fine. How did you know I was talking to Gandalf?"
"It would make the most sense. If you talked to Legolas first, then you'd have to talk to Gandalf, then you'd have to talk to Legolas again. Where as, if you talked to Gandalf first, you could find out everything and then just relay it to Legolas."
"How very astute of you. So, if you don't mind, I have one more call to make in my head." They both laughed at her analogy of her telepathy being phone calls.
/Sorry to interrupt, but I just talked to Gandalf./
\\What did he say?\\
/He and the Riders of Rohan will be coming from the east at sun up. And we will be coming from the northwest at sun up. Can you hold them off until then?/
\\It doesn't sound like we have much of a choice.\\
/We cold probably be there a few hours before that if we rode straight through./
\\No, we'd all be better off if you got a few hours rest before you got here. Saruman's army is vast, and it would be more help if you were fresh.\\
/Okay, then you're back-up will be there at sunrise./
\\Ah. We'll look for both you and Gandalf. I'll tell Aragorn what is going on here.\\
/Thanks. Be careful./
"How are they doing?" Graham asked her when she ‘hung up'.
"He wouldn't tell me, but I got the impression that he wished we were there already."
"Does he want us to ride straight through and get there sooner?"
"I offered, but he said he's rather have us there a little later, and a lot more refreshed. He said that Saruman's army was vast. So, I'm gonna have to go with it's massive and no matter what, we're going to be seriously out numbered."
"Well then, seeing as we're about three hours away, according to Boromir, I say we settle in for a quick nap, then get to Helm's Deep as soon as possible."
"Sounds like a plan."
The Company made camp to rest the horses and themselves. Four hours later, the camp had been cleared and the Company was on its way.
As the sun came over the east ridge, Rohan's reinforcements rode down into the Deep. The battle was long and hard. Many lives were lost on both sides. As the sun set on Helm's Deep, what remained of the Uruk-hai army dispersed and retreated.
The friends, acquaintances, and allies gathered and reunited inside Helm's Deep. Éowyn hugged her brother and her uncle. Éomer and Théoden reconciled. Willow hugged Gandalf, then Legolas, then Gimli. Graham and Boromir greeted Aragorn and Haldir.
"Well, I guess we best be off back to Gondor." Willow stated.
"Yes, we promised Denethor reinforcements," Boromir added.
"My men and I will accompany you. The rest may come if they will once they escort the women and children back to Edoras," Éomer offered.
"Thank you. We should rest for a few hours and then ride back as quickly as possible," Boromir suggested.
"Mmm, rest. Sounds good to me," Willow chimed in.
"Sounds good to me too," Graham agreed.
"So it is agreed. We rest for a short while then ride out." Boromir instructed.
The group broke up to find a quiet place to sleep. Graham took Willow by the hand and led her to a dark corner inside the Deep. He pulled her down to him and she snuggled up with her back to him. Graham wrapped her in his strong, but tired and aching, arms. Before either was aware of anything else, they were both sound asleep.
Dawn came all too soon for Willow's taste. But soon the small army was mounted and ready to make the trek to Gondor. Willow rode at the front, next to Graham, Boromir, Éowyn, and Éomer. They rode as hard and as fast as their horses would carry them.
As the sun rose in the early morning sky on the fourth day, the small army entered Minas Tirith only to be greeted with an all out war. Without any hesitation the group newly arrived from Rohan jumped into the fray. The battle was violent and unmerciful. Blood and death surrounded them. Even Willow and Éowyn were involved in the battle. Éowyn and Willow fought side by side, understanding that they were stronger together. Their men had made their way into the masses, while the two women just took out what came at them. The two women faltered only slightly as they heard the screech of the Naz-gul above them.
"Look out!" Willow yelled to her blonde companion.
Éowyn ducked as the flying Black Rider swooped down directly over her head. The Naz-gul turned back in his path and headed toward the two women again. This time the women were ready for him. They dodged to each side and drove their swords into him and his beast. The beast fell easily, but the Rider continued to fight. The two warrior women fought harder. The Rider collapsed unceremoniously to the ground defeated and killed.
\\Willow, how are things going?\\
/Things are hectic, Legolas. Where are you guys?/
\\We're just sailing up to the far side of Pelennor Fields now.\\
/That's you guys in the ships? We thought is was more bad guys./
\\It's us. Sorry we took so long. The Paths of the Dead didn't want to cooperate.\\
/The Paths of the Dead? Nevermind, don't tell me. I don't think I want to know. Just get here as soon as possible. Éowyn and I already took out the head Naz-gul./
\\That's amazing. I want to hear all about it later. We're docking now. Be safe.\\
/You too. See you soon./
The rest of the day passed in a blur. The battle continued. But with the help of the reinforcements that arrived via the ships, the side of good was gaining ground. Then, without warning, Willow felt a sharp pain in the back of her left shoulder blade. Before she had a chance to figure out what had happened, she succumbed to the blackness that enveloped her.
Her head was throbbing and her shoulder blade felt like it had been ripped from her body then surgically reattached. Willow tried desperately to sit up, but her body wouldn't cooperate.
"Berg, you're awake." Graham was at Willow's side instantly.
"What happened?" Her voice was scratchy from lack of use.
"You were stabbed by a Naz-gul in your left shoulder blade. You lost a lot of blood, but Legolas and Haldir were able to save you."
"I guess Elves are good for something." They both laughed.
"I'm so glad that you're awake. I was so worried about you."
"I'm happy to be awake. How long was I out?"
"Almost a week, if you can believe that. You had everyone worried." Graham tucked a stray piece of Willow's red hair behind her ear.
"I'm sorry. Is everyone okay?"
"Yeah, even Frodo and Sam are back. They got back last night."
"Oh, I'm so relieved. So, I take it that we won?"
"That we did, Berg. And now that you're awake, Boromir and Faramir can throw the big celebration that they've wanted to."
"A party? Yeah!!" Willow giggled and Graham just smiled at the woman sitting in front of him.
"Yup. It sounds like it's going to be a major blow out. Something not to be missed."
"Well then, I guess I better get up and make myself look half way decent."
"You always look beautiful," Graham admitted before he realized he had even spoken.
Willow blushed. "Thank you, Graham. That means a lot to me. But even so, I would feel better after getting cleaned up."
"I understand. I'll send someone in to help you."
He stood and started from the bed, but Willow caught his wrist and pulled him back down to the bed. Willow had captured his lips in a passionate kiss before he knew what was happening. It took only seconds before he was returning the kiss with equal fervor. Not wanting to hurt her too much, Graham reluctantly pulled away from the tempting witch.
"I'm glad that you're feeling better. I'll send someone in to help you."
"Thank you for everything Graham," Willow called to his retreating form.
"Anytime Berg. Anytime." Graham slipped out the door without turning around. He knew if he did, he'd never be able to restrain himself again.
* * * * *
The party was indescribable. It lasted for two days. Everyone had a wonderful time, even Willow had begun to feel more like her old self, even the fact that Graham never left her side made her happy. On the morning of the second day, Aragorn was crowned king of Gondor. The ceremony was beautiful. Aragorn was regal and royal, everything a king should be.
By the time the sun set on the end of the second day of celebration, both Willow and Graham were exhausted. They sat in a quiet corner of the gardens, just enjoying the cool night air.
"It is time," Gandalf announced as he and Elrond approached the two.
"Time for what?" Graham knew what it was time for, but he was hoping to put it off.
"It is time for the two of you to return home," Elrond informed them, confirming their suspicions.
"What if we don't want to go home?" Willow asked defiantly.
Gandalf chuckled at the fiery woman. "This is not your world. And I think that you have much to do on your own world."
"Can we at least say good-bye to everyone?" Graham asked.
"Of course." Gandalf moved out of the way to reveal all of the others standing behind him.
With a tearful good-bye and gifts exchanged, Willow and Graham were soon ready to return to Earth. The Elf, the Wizard, the Witch, and the Commando all spoke the words and with a brilliant flash of light the two humans left Middle Earth.
Willow and Graham looked at their surroundings; they were back in Graham's apartment. Everything was just as they left it, except dustier. Graham removed the bag that he had been given to carry their gifts in off his shoulder. He turned to look at Willow. After placing the bag on the ground, he pulled the small woman into his arms. They both cried - out of joy to be home, and out of sadness that they would never see their friends again. There was no embarrassment over the tears this time, they both had been through so much, and both had lost as much.
"We should go to Giles' to let everyone know we're back. I'm sure Riley will be there and he'll be able to let the military know that you're back too." Willow finally found her voice.
"I know. I want to see everyone here, it's just . . ."
"I know. Me too. But hey, they sent us portraits." Willow opened the bag and pulled out one of the two hand painted pictures of everyone in the fellowship, plus Éowyn, Éomer, Haldir, Elrond, Faramir, and Théoden. Willow ran her finger over Legolas' face.
Willow's eyes flew open wide. /Legolas?/
\\The one and only. I take it you and Graham made it back safe.\\
/Yes we did. I didn't think that I'd ever hear your voice again. I'm so happy./
\\ Me too, Willow.\\
/I've got to run, but you just made my day. I miss you. Tell everyone that Graham and I are safe, and give them our love./
\\With pleasure. I'll talk to you later.\\
"What is it?" Graham was worried that something was wrong.
"It still works." Willow was nearly jumping up and down in excitement.
"What still works?"
"I can still talk to Legolas."
"Really? That's wonderful." Graham hugged Willow, picked her up, and spun her around in circles. "Now that WE've had some good news, let's go find the Scoobies and give THEM some good news."
"Sounds like a plan." Willow took Graham's offered hand and the two left Graham's apartment. They walked in comfortable silence the entire way to Giles' house.
"You ready to face the firing squad?" Willow asked Graham.
"Ready when you are." Graham gave her hand a reassuring squeeze.
Willow slowly opened the door to Giles' apartment. The two walked in quietly. Everyone was there researching, even Angel, Cordelia, and Wesley. Willow and Graham smiled knowing that everyone was there looking for them.
/They're looking for us, how sweet./
Graham's eyes opened wide. \\That's what I was thinking. I didn't know that you could talk to me.\\
Willow smiled. /Neither did I. This could be fun./
\\So, how long until they realize that we're standing in the apartment?\\
/With everyone in full research mode, it could take awhile. At least until Giles need some more tea./ They both tried to stifle the small laugh that caused, but to no avail. The noise got everyone's attention. /Ready, aim, fire./ They both smiled as they were nearly hugged to death, and bombarded by questions.
"Why doesn't everyone sit down and we'll explain everything," Willow offered.
After everyone was settled in, Graham and Willow told the Scoobies everything that had happened. After the three hour question and answer period, everyone was silent.
"I must say," Giles finally broke the silence. "It rather sounds like quite an adventure. I must admit that I am glad the you both are back safe and sound."
"My should still hurts, but hey, I had a sword shoved in it. But other than that, we're both great. A little tired, but good nonetheless."
"Graham," Riley looked at his former teammate. "I'm really glad that you're okay. It looks like you and Willow got everything worked out. Do you think that you and I can work everything out?"
"I'd like that Ri. Willow helped me deal with a lot of what was bothering me, so I think we'll be back to normal in no time."
"Good. I missed you, man."
"Me too." Graham looked around the room at the others. "I was wondering if it would be alright if I started helping you guys out. I've missed the demon hunting, and I'm much better at hand to hand killing than I used to be."
"We'd love to have you here Graham," Buffy reassured the former Initiative member.
"Okay," Xander spoke up. "There's going to be plenty of time for catch up later, right now, I say it's time to party. Our bestest buds are back from stopping an apocalypse. If that isn't cause for a celebration, I don't know what is."
The others smiled and laughed.
"Let's hit the Bronze."
"Can I take a shower first?" Willow begged. "I haven't had a real shower since I left."
"Sure. We'll meet at the Bronze in an hour." Buffy pulled Willow out the door before anyone could say anything to the contrary.
Just past an hour later, Buffy and Willow entered the Bronze. They searched out their respective commando, but there was no need. The men found them first.
"Wow, Berg. You look amazing."
Willow had chosen to wear a short black skirt, with a deep red string tied halter top, black strappy heels, and her Elven choker.
"Thanks. You look good yourself."
Graham had gone with jeans and a button up shirt.
"Thanks. You want to dance?" He held out his hand to the red head.
"I'd love to." She placed her small hand in her larger one and allowed him to lead her to the dance floor.
"Is it me, or do you get them impression that those two fell in love on their little trip?" Buffy asked Riley as they danced.
"No, it's not just you. They do look really great together though."
"They do. And more importantly, they look happy together."
"Yup, they do."
Willow snuggled further into Graham's strong embrace. Neither wanted to break the magic of the moment. Being in each others' arms just felt so right.
/This feels nice. I don't want it to end./
\\ Me neither Berg.\\ He placed a kiss on the top of her head, wrapping his arms more tightly around her.
/We've put in our appearance. How about we get out of here?/
Graham raised his eyebrow and smirked. \\And where exactly did you have in mind to go?\\
/Your place./ She smiled as she heard his breath catch in his throat.
\\Are you saying what I think you're saying?\\
/Well, technically I'm not SAYing anything./ Willow was sure she heard Graham laugh. /But I am suggesting what you think I'm suggesting./
\\So, how are we going to explain our way out of here?\\
/That's easy. We just got back from an apocalypse. We just tell them that we're still tired. No questions asked./
\\Works for me. Let's go tell Buffy and Riley.\\
Graham led Willow over to where Buffy and Riley were dancing.
"Buffy," Willow tapped Buffy on the shoulder. "I'm still really beat from everything. Graham's going to take me home. Okay?"
"Uh, okay. I'll talk to you tomorrow?"
"Of course," Willow yawned. "I'll talk to you then. Bye."
Willow waved to her friends as Graham led her by the hand out of the club.
"I like the fact that you never did lie."
"I know, wasn't that sneaky of me."
"How is your shoulder by the way?"
"It still aches a little, but it's okay."
The two walked arm in arm back to Graham's apartment. Once inside his apartment, Graham pulled Willow to him and kissed her passionately. Willow began to unbutton Graham's shirt. She kissed down his neck to his chest. She kissed each piece of newly exposed flesh as she continued to remove his shirt. When she ran her tongue along his well-defined chest, Graham lost all rational thought. Before either of them new what had happened, their clothes were strewn throughout the apartment as the two made their way to the bedroom.
"Willow, move in with me." Graham requested as he held his witch in the afterglow of their first time together.
"Are you sure?"
"I've never been more sure of anything in my life. I love you and I want to spend as much time with you as possible."
Willow propped herself up on her elbow so that she could look him in the eyes. "Oh Graham, I love you too. I would love to move in with you."
"Then it's settled, we'll move your stuff tomorrow."
"I love you Graham."
"I love you too, Berg."
The two lovers kissed softly then fell asleep in each others' arms.